We see things all the time calling for “the reason for the season” and “Savior not Santa” yet I feel like most of us don’t put in the extra effort to act like a Christ follower during the holidays much outside of dropping change in the Salvation Army buckets. I know I didn’t. It’s such a busy time, and I’ve got things to DO you know?! Cleaning and baking and shopping and wrapping and decorating! Who has time to volunteer? Besides, aren’t places like that swamped with volunteers this time of year? I’ll just volunteer later…But then later comes and goes and suddenly it’s Christmas again.
We are beyond blessed with a roof over our heads, plenty of food in our cupboards, and the means to give our child the Christmas experience we want to give him. We can afford to travel to see family this holiday season. I can bake holiday cookies and not worry about what a few extra ingredients may mean for our budget. I wanted to focus on monetary wealth today because it is something we treasure, and it is something we take for granted without trying. Often, all it takes is a scroll through my news-feed to make me feel blessed by the lack of hardships God has placed before us. And I know the big thing is to downplay the role money plays in our society, but let’s face it: money makes life a lot easier if you have it. So what happens for those who don’t? For those who struggle to provide even basic needs for their children? Do they go without? Or can they rely on others to help? To share the wealth this week, we embraced an opportunity to provide Christmas for a teenage girl through United Way’s Christmas Angel program through our church.
Growing up, we always took a few tags off the Jesse tree in the lobby of our church after mass on Sunday and brought in socks, underwear, toilet paper, clothes, things like that. Each tag had a different item listed on it for a person who needed it in our community. My mom and dad always did this with us, so it just felt natural to do the same in my own church as an adult. However, when I first went up to the info counter at church to sign up for the Christmas Angel’s program our church is participating in, I didn’t realize how expensive it would be. They were requesting that each person spend $100 per person, and some families were taking on entire families to buy for! As a stay at home mom, I knew we couldn’t manage that, but I signed us up to buy for a young girl who lived locally. Still, I kept thinking, “$100? That’s a lot to ask of someone.” I selfishly kept harping on that thought over and over in my mind until I got home from church and looked at the child’s wish list.
When I read the child’s wishes, I was surprised and saddened:
- clothes (I like pink.)
- sewing materials.
She was practical.
She is 14.
Where were her wishes for One Direction stuff or new headphones or maybe some new sports equipment or a video game?
I began to think of all the times I’d spent $20 here and there without a thought in the past few weeks- on Black Friday for something for myself, at Starbucks, at a restaurant, on another gift for Lucas, on printing photos for the house. Why was it not a big deal to me to spend well over $100 on other things we didn’t need, but it felt so shocking to be asked to spend that on a stranger who had a real need for it? I felt like this was one of those moments where God was slapping me upside the head with perspective.
When I got to the store to shop, I was filled with guilt at my previous frustration with the expected spending limit. I quickly found several tops and a pair of jeans in her size, agonizing over whether or not she’d like them. (Parents of teenagers, how do you do it? Shopping for a teenager is nerve wrecking!) I couldn’t find shoes in her size, but I found a few tools for sewing she might like and picked out some pink fabric bundles in prints and solids. When I had spoken to her sister on the phone, I found out she was just getting started, so I chose simpler items and made everything pink! I also grabbed some toiletry type things for her- a shower pouf, some body wash, some eos chapstick, a hair brush, some hair ties (all pink), just little things that add up when you have to take that expense out of your grocery bill. When all was said and done, I’d surpassed the limit without even trying.
I’m excited to drop off the gifts at the end of this week and to meet these girls in person. They don’t live far from me, and I found out they attend school online. I’m hoping this experience opens doors for more opportunities to help this family. I want to offer my assistance with school as well (if you don’t know, I’m a teacher). Even if I never hear from her again, I’m glad that we were able to provide her Christmas gifts this year. As small of a gesture as it is in the grand scheme of things, I hope it allows her to feel that she is loved and cared for both from heaven and here on earth. I hope it gives her hope because after all, that’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it?
I encourage you to try to find a way to spread the wealth this Christmas in any way you can, whether it’s bringing a meal to a family you know is struggling or inviting a friend’s kids over to bake cookies with you and yours because you know she can’t squeeze it into her budget. Making time to spread the wealth this Christmas has given me that true perspective of what Christmas really should be about: giving to those who need it most, not just to those we appreciate and love. I hope you have that perspective too, and if you don’t, I hope you find it. Be the light of this season for others. ♥